FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - David Garrard's balky left knee started to feel better and the thought of retirement didn't seem to suit him anymore.
So, the veteran quarterback called New York Jets general manager John Idzik and asked for another opportunity. On Thursday, a healthy Garrard returned to the Jets to serve as a veteran backup and mentor to rookie Geno Smith.
``I was able to take the whole summer off and let my body heal,'' Garrard said in a statement issued by the team. ``I started training a couple of months ago and my knee feels great. I'm sitting at home, watching games thinking, `Why am I at home? Why I am doing this to myself?'
``I didn't want to have any regrets one day.''
Garrard was removed from the reserve-retired list and placed on the exempt list, meaning he is eligible to practice and attend meetings. Garrard, who signed with New York in March before leaving because of knee trouble in May, will be on the exempt list for two games. The team will need to make a decision by Oct. 21. If the knee proves to be healthy, Garrard could be activated for the team's game at Cincinnati on Oct. 27.
``I reached out to Mr. Idzik,'' Garrard said. ``He has given me another chance, so it's truly a blessing.''
The 35-year-old Garrard was signed during the winter to provide veteran competition for Mark Sanchez, and then was expected to be in the team's quarterback mix along with Smith. But in May, Garrard said that his surgically repaired knee kept swelling up on him after workouts, and that forced him to walk away from the game and consider retirement.
He hasn't played in a regular-season game in the NFL since 2010 because of injuries. But his signing leaves the status of Brady Quinn uncertain. Quinn is currently listed as the team's No. 3 quarterback, and he has been unable to surpass the inexperienced Matt Simms on the depth chart. He has been inactive for four games this season.
Garrard was a fourth-round pick of Jacksonville in 2002, became the team's full-time starter five years later and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2009. He signed with Miami in March 2012 and appeared to be the front-runner to start ahead of rookie Ryan Tannehill and veteran Matt Moore, but was released after missing the preseason with a knee issue.
He has thrown for 16,003 yards in his career, with 89 touchdowns and 54 interceptions.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org